While other kids were reading children’s books, Chris Krawczyk was already devouring adults horror novels. It all started with a gift from Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood” series – and Chris’ descent into darkness was complete. My friend’s advice to me was, ‘Keep the strange and unusual close to your heart; they make life worth living,” Chris says. “I really took that to heart.”
Chris also loves comics and opened The Sidekick Comics shop/café in Leslieville in 2015. But Chris’s heart was still in horror.
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“I follow some really amazing different voices putting out wild books from small presses, but I couldn’t find them in a brick and mortar store anywhere,” Chris says. “I could get things from Amazon, but I wanted to shop locally and ethically. I ended up having a long list of publishers and books, and it was like having a catalog for a store.”
In April, along with husband and co-owner Jason Krawczyk, Chris opened Little Ghosts, Canada’s first bookstore/café dedicated to horror, at 930 Dundas St.W., at 930 Dundas St.W. “A good story will haunt you” is written on a brick wall. “It’s a welcoming environment with unimaginable horrors, like a warm nostalgic hug from a xenomorph,” Jason says. “And there’s coffee too!”
Little Ghosts features everything from body horror novels and thrillers to creature features, as well as nonfiction about serial killers, alien abductions, and historical burial practices.
Why is the horror genre so loved by so many? “I like the way it gives a face or a power to feelings of fear, unease, fear, and anxiety,” Chris says. “Imagine if your troubles were a ghost, a monster, a serial killer — that the thing that steals your power could be beaten or seared or set on fire. That you could kill it, that you could be victorious. Horror is cathartic.”
Horror can also serve as an allegory for many things, be it racism (as in Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”) or homophobia (as in “The Route of Ice & Salt,” a gay retelling of “Dracula”). The Krawczyks prioritize diversity when building their roster. “While we have some classics (from Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, and Koji Suzuki), we want to highlight underrepresented authors who don’t have access to wider distribution or who don’t often see their books in stores. ‘ says Chris. “People are doing a great job presenting those ideas in new and terrifying ways.” Some of their recent favorites include the independently published anthologies “The Book of Queer Saints” and “Your Body Is Not Your Body” (the latter’s proceeds go to a Texas trans youth organization).
Little Ghosts also hosts author signings and book launches, and is introducing a subscription service in June, where people can sign up online for a new book every month or quarter, or for an annual box of merch and discount codes for the online store. The Krawczyks even hope to release horror books themselves one day. “Little Ghosts can be a bookstore and a publishing house, right?” says Jason. “We’ll have to learn the intricacies of publishing and clear some of our current records, but it’s both exciting and terrifying. Just like the store.”